I was talking to a recent arrival in Belize, and he mentioned how annoying he found the speed bumps in Placencia. I reminded him we have quite a few of them on the Western Highway leading to San Ignacio as well. He said he’d rather see stop signs than speed bumps.
I explained to him that I didn’t think that would really work, since people would just ignore the stop signs. He didn’t understand why they would do that, so I explained that there are no traffic police monitoring anything in Belize.
No one is hiding in the bushes with a radar gun, so people usually drive whatever speed they want. Even when you do see traffic lights in Belize City, if no one is at the intersection and it’s a red light, you can just go through it, because you won’t get a ticket. The same thing for stop signs. We have a five way intersection in downtown San Ignacio, and the traffic police do stand there at the corner, but if no one is coming to yield to, people just roll right through, and the cops do nothing. The rule at that corner is first come, first serve – that’s how you know whether to go or not.
So stop signs are basically ineffective because they aren’t monitored and you aren’t penalized for disobeying. On the other hand, speed bumps are a perfect solution, because unless you want to ruin your car, you have to slow down at least somewhat for those. They are a way of regulating speed without needing personnel. So I really don’t think you’ll see them going anywhere any time soon.
This morning on my walk I saw the cutest thing. Two high school age girls were walking down a very muddy path, presumably from their home, to the highway to catch the bus. It rained something awful last night, so the road was quite muddy. When I looked at their feet, I saw they had covered their shoes with the plastic bags you get at the market.
What a great idea! I’ve always felt sorry for the locals who live on dirt roads and don’t have cars. Some of the puddles and mud they have to deal with walking to and from work or school in their nice shoes every day is horrible. Sometimes when I get home from my walk after a rain, my tennis shoes are caked in mud. I often wonder how you deal with that, showing up to school or work with a platform heel of mud!
Since those stupid bags are given out every time you buy anything (even one item), people usually have a ton of them at home, so it’s great to see them repurposed. And in case you’re wondering, no, I’ve never seen shoe covers sold here in Belize, nor do you often see people wearing rain boots, except for some field workers.
What do you prefer – a stop sign or a speed bump?